Spliff Magazine

A Tale of Two Cannabis Conferences

This January saw back-to- back cannabis conferences: LIFT in Vancouver, British Columbia and the RAD Expo in the already legal city Portland, Oregon.

The experiences could not have been more different. At LIFT it was evident that the Canadian market is building itself up for a federally legal market the expectations are that the cannabis market will be flashy over the top and “brand” focused. Elaborate booths with producers trying to one-up each other with “curated” style and pizzazz. This was very much a big business to big business expo with no consideration of the consumer at all.

The RAD Expo was more focused on retail cannabis and the consumer experience. It was about promoting realistic goals for the future, learning from past failures, and highlighting successful
brand marketing. The products and brands showcased were extremely functional and useful to the end consumer.

The seminars at both conferences were very informative but were again from two different perspectives on the same topic… Both dealt with Licensed Producers (LPs), legal matters, investments, and growth. And in a lot of respects the answers were similar.

From the perspective of a writer who has been in the retail end of the adult-use market for almost two decades I have learned one thing that the Canadian market needs to learn: the real world of cannabis consumers is not imaginary and new. The customer experience already exists and will not change post legalization.

Canadian LPs need to spend 2018 learning about their future customers and how to market to them rather than putting their focus on the stock market and investors. A company is only as successful as the real world sales they make.